Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 2: "Exposure"

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Episode Information

Title: "Exposure"
Writer: Moira Kirland
Director: Stephen Williams
Rating (out of 4 stars): *** 1/2
Reviewed on: March 3, 2008

Synopsis from TV.com


We finally check in to see what White and his crazy breeding cult buddies are up to.

Logan has been in intermittent contact with White's wife (who escaped from White in "Medium Is the Message") - she has been trying to track down her son, Ray, whom White sent to some undisclosed location under the control of the breeding cult. Mrs. White tells Logan on the phone that she's found Ray, but the conversation is cut short when White breaks into her hotel room. White presumably succeeds in strangling her, since we don't see her again.

Logan traces her call to the hotel, which is in a small town outside Seattle. He and Max head there for a visit. In Mrs. White's former hotel room, they find a roll of film. When they develop it, they find many pictures of a snooty-looking prep school, and in one picture Ray is looking out the window.

That night, Max sneaks into the school with the intent of bringing Ray out. However, Ray is about to undergo an elaborate and important ceremony. The adults are all dressed in odd costumes, with lots of body paint. The ceremony involves blood from a sacrificed snake: Ray is branded with some of this blood. Max is revealed in her hiding position, so she tries to zip through the ceremony and snag Ray. She should know better, since everyone there is a revved up as she is! She is injured by a knife, captured, and thrown into a cell.

The ritual Ray is undergoing will supposedly "prove" that he is worthy of being a cult member - does that mean it will prove if he's got enhanced abilities? However, if he's not worthy, the ritual will kill him. White is understandably concerned about Ray making it through the ritual, so he shows up to watch and wait.

Max was cut with a knife that had the same snake's blood, so one of the cult leaders says that she should be going through the same ritual as Ray - and they don't expect that she will survive it. Another boy (who has presumably already proven himself) is set to guard Max. Max fakes symptoms of her impending death and gets the boy to open the door, but when she tries to run, the boy snatches her up with his telekinetic abilities. That's a new enhancement!

Max manages to distract the boy and knock him out. She steals a cult robe, sneaks into Ray's room, and grabs the boy. One of the leaders has told White that it's unlikely that Ray will survive. Max gets out of the building, but White noticed his child was missing and is right behind her. Logan returns just in the nick of time to ram White with his car, putting White out of commission for long enough for Max and Ray to get in and drive away.

One of Logan's doctor friends examines Ray and determines that he will be OK; the snake blood had a virus of some kind in it, but Ray's body fought it off. So did Max's, for that matter. Does this mean that Ray will now start manifesting enhanced abilities? Logan arranges for Mrs. White's sister to take Ray and head for Canada. At the end of the episode, we watch a conference between White and two of the cult leaders. They are concerned about how and why Max survived the snake blood, and think that probably Max's creator, Sandeman, had something to do with it. White plans to experiment on other captured transgenics to test this hypothesis. White is also determined to find his son.

A significant secondary plot took place throughout the episode involving Sketchy. Sketchy has gotten himself a second job as a freelance reporter for a Seattle tabloid; he is determined to get pictures of the mutants that are rumored to be around Seattle. Despite Alec and Original Cindy's derision, he starts skulking around the sewers. He actually witnesses and photographs some of White's men chasing down an odd-looking transgenic, but when he returns to Jam Pony triumphant, Alec and Cindy sneakily expose his film. When he gets it developed, there's nothing there. He becomes horribly dejected and convinced that Alec and Cindy were right all along, until White's men pick him up and question him about what he saw. He denies seeing anything, so White's men let him go, but in reality he is now convinced that there really are mutants and vows to continue looking for them.

It was great to get back into a meaty story with this episode. White's breeding cult just keeps getting weirder and weirder, now with a strange ritual involving snakes. Max and Logan figure the snake is a carrier for the ritual virus, and one could see how in less-modern times, such a carrier would be necessary. However, today the ritual is superfluous, except for its mystical appearance and tradition. After all, presumably now the virus could be stored by modern methods in a lab. And Ray's blood could have been sampled and tested without submitting him to the virus directly, which would be safer. This brings us to the question: did Ray survive because he "passed" the test, or because a modern doctor treated him? It's not clear, because the cult leader said Ray wasn't doing well before Max took him. If the cult is allowing children who fail the test to die when modern medicine could save them, then this is an extra black mark against them.

White is now going to be triply interested in finding Max: he's supposed to track her down as an escaped transgenice, he's supposed to figure out why she wasn't killed by the snake virus, and he wants to know what she did with Ray. Max had better watch her back! If Max's intervention did result in saving Ray when he would have otherwise died, what will White's reaction be? Initially White seemed committed to the ritual testing, but when Ray started to get into danger, he did not appear so committed.

Now that Max and Logan have saved Ray, will they continue to investigate White's breeding cult? I would imagine so, but I'm not sure what goal they would have in mind: just to figure out what the purpose of the cult is, to see how it's related to Manticore, to destroy it? Maybe all of those and more. If White decided to leave Max alone, would Max leave the cult alone?

Some incidental politics with White: White's government superior (for the job of tracking down transgenics) told White to make sure to keep the transgenics out of the news. The superior was really rattled and gave White enough information that White could certainly engineer a take down of that whole government organization if he wanted to. What will White do about this?

The subplot involving Sketchy was much more relevant than most such plots. Sketchy's new job seems to follow up on his talk with Mia in the previous episode, where she encouraged him to try new things. I've thought for awhile that it's a little odd that Sketchy is the only friend of Max's that isn't in on Max's secret - and now he's the one interested in finding mutants. Will he find any real information? How would he react if he knew Max (and Alec) were "mutants"? This small plot may be setting up for later episodes, since Max has commented before on how the transgenics can't keep running and hiding forever.

The title of the episode, "Exposure", certainly gets a lot of mileage. The location and rituals of the breeding cult are exposed. Ray and Max are exposed to a virus. White's government agency is worried about the existence of the transgenics being exposed. Sketchy almost does expose the existence of the transgenics. Heck, Max even exposes herself to the telekinetic boy in order to distract him.

Actor notes: the actor who played the hotel desk clerk now plays the character of Galen Tyrol in the new Battlestar Galactica. The actor who played the cult leader also played the character Narim in Stargate: SG-1.

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